01 - A LODOSS WAR (Sound Performance)
02 - OVERTURE
03 - WANDER LAND
04 - INTO THE LABYRINTH (Legend of the Labyrinth)
05 - KING OF KINGS (Ultimate King)
06 - A BLACK BATTLE (Fight to the Death)
07 - HEROES (Heroes' Themes) Slayn~Woodchuck~Deedlit~Parn
08 - TROUBADOUR
09 - ELEGY FOR SOLDIERS
10 - ETERNAL ISLAND ~ LODOSS (Eternal Lodoss)
One of the best soundtracks for an RPG based on an anime that I've ever heard is the arranged soundtrack for the first Record of Lodoss War game. This RPG was released for the PC Engine in 1989, and the soundtrack released (on vinyl and CD) around the same time. Jiro Irima's score receives some wonderful arrangements: live performances, synth-happy keyboards, synthy-slap bass...it's like a Falcom soundtrack, but of the highest quality possible.
The opening track is a short drama track (4 minutes long), placed at the start to give the setting of what the Lodoss War is like for our heroes. Then, the music kicks in with the Overture. This track alone is enough to sell the album. Honestly, if you think Falcom arrangements are hip, you'll love this track. I immediately indulged myself in it, repeating the track multiple times on first listen, before moving on to the rest of the soundtrack. Listen to the sample to get an idea for yourself.
"Wander Land" is an enjoyable track, but its beauty is overshadowed by "Into the Labyrinth." Track 4 uses a looped track of orchestra bells and a funky synth bass, and the piano takes the solo. This is the epitome of good new age music, and to (again) make the Falcom comparison, Fujisawa and all of the "PreProject" would be pleased to hear music like this. I love this song a great deal. Again, listen to the sample.
"King of Kings" is a regal march with big brass and bigger percussion. "Black Battle" is another synth-tastic track, but in a good way; for a third time, I will make the Falcom comparison and argue that this song trumps some of the best "Sorcerian" arrangements known to man. A nice, upbeat track using standard "band" instruments (guitar keyboard bass drums), "Black Battle" rocks in a way that we could only find in the late '80s. But what's so great about it is that it's not just some random '80s song, but it's for an RPG based on a manga/anime. I love it.
The longest track on the disc is the medley of Hero themes. Clocking in at almost 8 minutes, track 7 is a hit-or-miss for me, since some of the character themes are really annoying, but others are quite impressive. "Troubadour" is another soft, beautiful track that makes great use of piano and guitar. Swelling strings also appear in the background, and they sound beautiful. Violin takes center stage through part of the track as well. If this song doesn't make you cry, then either you don't know Lodoss, or you have become too jaded. I love this piece.
"Elegy For Soldiers" has a lot of different musical styles and representations, and sometimes it's a bit too boisterous for me. But when the emphasis is put on the piano and the other instruments are turned down, the song is almost as good as the one before it. The finale, unfortunately, doesn't hold up as well as the rest of the album. The style of music intended to sound like a full orchestra doesn't work as well with the synth this time around, and it's a shame that they couldn't have an actual orchestra for this final piece. That would fix all my gripes with it.
What's strange about this album is that few people seem to know about it, in our own secluded VGM circles anyway. Lodoss fans are familiar with it, but again, few know that the music comes from a PC Engine RPG. Despite its obscurity, it can still be found on Yahoo! Japan Auctions on occasion for a reasonable price. This is a soundtrack that has aged well, and I give it my highest recommendations.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann